Many people who own a car have let their friends or family members drive their vehicle at some point. If the person who borrows the car is in an accident, it can create problems in addition to the regular challenges of navigating a car accident claim.

When you let someone borrow your car, that person is also using your insurance policy. Car insurance covers your vehicle, not to you specifically. How does this affect an accident claim and coverage in California?

California’s Comparative Fault Standard

Personal injury claims, including car accidents, use a comparative fault or negligence standard in California. Essentially, this rule says that more than one person can be responsible for the accident and that each person’s compensation for damages will be decreased by their percentage of fault. This fault rule is demonstrated in the below example:

Jonah is driving down the interstate when Colleen changes lanes and hits Jonah’s car. Jonah believes that Colleen will be found at fault for the accident, and he will receive all the compensation he needs to cover his losses. However, the judge finds that Jonah was speeding at the time of the accident – going 90 mph in a 75-mph zone. Because of that, Jonah is determined to also be at fault for the accident.

Colleen is 60% at fault, and Jonah is 40% at fault. The judge awarded Jonah $18,000 in damages, but that is reduced by his percentage of fault, so the amount he actually received is $10,800.

What to Know About Car Insurance After an Accident

Car insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They want to make money, which means cutting costs. When an insurer offers you a settlement amount, it is almost always lower than what is needed. Consider this carefully before agreeing to a settlement offer from an insurance company.

It is understandable that you would want your property damage addressed as quickly as possible after a friend or family member gets in an accident in your car. However, accepting a subpar offer can cause more harm than good. Speaking with an attorney before you agree to anything can ensure your best interests are considered in negotiations.

Also, be aware that, even though you may not have been at the scene of the accident, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible. Speak with your friend or loved one who was using your car at the time to see if they took photos or videos, spoke to any witnesses, or filed a police report.

Establishing fault and limiting your or your loved one’s liability after an accident is important, which means collecting evidence to support your claim is crucial. Your car accident attorney can help you or your friend navigate this process with ease and confidence.

When Someone Else Was Driving

California requires all motorists to carry at least liability insurance on their vehicles. If you have insurance coverage on your car, the licensed driver you let borrow it will also be covered under your policy. They can file a claim against your insurance policy, which means that you may experience increased premiums or additional penalties associated with the accident that you weren’t involved in.

Many spouses or live-in partners add each other to their car insurance policies. However, even if that is not the case, your insurance should cover the accident even if someone else was driving. If the other driver was at fault for the accident involving your vehicle, then you or your friend would file a claim against that driver’s car insurance policy.

When the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance

It is strongly recommended that drivers carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UMC/UIM) coverage, but because it is not required, many drivers do not have this type of coverage. UMC/UIM coverage is an added and optional benefit that pays for an accident when the other driver is at fault but doesn’t have car insurance or when your damages exceed the limits of their coverage. UMC/UIM coverage can also be used if you or someone else driving your car is the victim of a hit-and-run.

If you have it, your insurance company should cover the costs associated with the accident. However, if you don’t have this optional coverage, you may still be able to recover some of the damages caused by the accident.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in California

In most cases, your friend or family member who borrows your car will be covered by your car insurance if they are in an accident. When another driver is at fault, that person’s car insurance should cover the damages caused by the accident. Despite this seemingly simple explanation, dealing with car insurance companies after an accident can be difficult. If you are dealing with an insurer who refuses to offer a fair settlement amount or have other questions about your car accident case, contact the Accident Network to schedule a free consultation.